Google Flight Search Comes To Mobile

Today, Google wants to make it easier to find flights on your mobile device, as they have announced that their Flight Search feature has come to Android and iOS devices. Now, when you search “flights from X to X” on your mobile device, you’ll see the same Flight Search box that you’ve seen on your desktop for a few months now.

Let’s say you search “flights from Chicago to Daytona” on your phone, the Flight Search box will now appear just below the ads. There, you can edit your departure dates and click on the flight links for more information.

From the Google Inside Search blog:

The Flight Search feature on mobile browsers offers all the benefits of Flight Search on desktop:

  • Find flights quickly with results that load instantly and a list that’s easy to scan.
  • Discover places to go on a map – see ticket prices for various destinations by surfing the map. You can filter by price, airline, or flight duration.
  • Find the best time to go – Click the calendar icon to see what dates will get you low prices.

Google unveiled Flight Search back in September of 2011, and at that time they were available only when a user clicked the “flights” option on the left-hand box on the results page. In December, Google integrated the Flight Search box into the search results, as long as you search the right phrase (flights from X to X).

Soon after that, travel websites complained that the Flight Search box was pushing down their links on SERPs. They said that since they rely on Google for 10%-20% of their traffic, this was a major inconvenience.


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5 Mobile Marketing Tips From Cindy Krum


In 2005, I remember asking the audience at my SES San Jose session how many were using analytics and was amazed when only about 25 percent of the room indicated they were. Now it appears mobile marketing is in the same situation. A recent survey found more than 50 percent of web designers ignored mobile browsers when developing site designs.

“This year, mobile web access has risen to nearly 15 percent of all UK web traffic, which means the number of websites missing out on this prime traffic is also increasing,” Heart Internet director Jonathan Brealey said.

Financial Times chief executive John Ridding noted recently that mobile registrants to FT convert to subscribers two and a half times more than any other access method. Does a possible 250 percent increase conversion get your attention?

Cindy Krum, CEO of Mobile Moxie and author of “Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are,” has spoken at numerous SES conferences around the world. And mobile was once again a hot topic at SES San Francisco this year – mobile marketing was named by many speakers as a key component of the future of search.

“The cell phone is where people go to fill their down time and find information to guide their daily lives. Get hip to the mobile aesthetic or suffer the consequences!” Krum said.

She said the main thing with mobile is you need to build your site with a flexible template that can accommodate to fit a variety of screen sizes, and orientations gracefully. Like in the early days of the web, many companies are phoning it in and creating mobile “brochure-ware” rather than really trying to create utility or build a great user experience, Krum said, adding that an app-like look and feel will be well-received on your mobile site.

Additionally, you want to code to the highest standard possible. XHTML is generally ideal, she noted, “but be ready to start learning bits of HTML5 and Mobile AJAX to snazz things up. The design aesthetic is also a bit different. You should be drawing ideas and inspiration from apps, rather than your existing site.”

Here are Krum’s top five tips for marketers getting involved in the mobile space.

1. Outline and Prioritize Development & Resources

Your priority should be the most likely reason customers have for accessing the site – not the ideal reason. For example, even though a bank may want to help customers create long-term investment accounts from their mobile phone, because that is the most profitable transaction, doesn’t mean your bank site should focus on long-term investment accounts. Your mobile site should still focus on everyday tasks like checking account balances and finding ATMs.

A mobile site really has the opportunity to shine and make a difference for your customers with the monotonous, everyday tasks. Special activities such as researching investment accounts will still most likely happen at a full-sized computer.

2. Check the Competition

Look at applications in your vertical to see what they look like and what kinds of functions they include. This is the new bar and your site should meet or beat the expectations set by those applications.

Take this information and compare it to the sitemap of the desktop site and the goals you have set for the mobile site. Determine which of the app functions you will be able to replicate or emulate on the web and which will have to be adapted to work in the browser.

3. Educate Yourself on User-Agent Detection and Re-direction

There are ways to do it properly and ways to get all of your mobile pages removed from the mobile search results very quickly. (Synopsis of the concept and its impact on SEO here).

Create a site plan where mobile page urls are formatted as mirrors of the desktop URLs, with only a slight difference, like the addition of a “.” or “/”. This will make the user agent detection and redirection script eminently easier to generate, and will keep your development team a bit more sane.

4. Read up on Cache Controls and Header Controls

Most SEOs ignore these things, but they can affect the load time and indexing of the site (great article on this here).

5. Create a Promotion and Integration Plan

This is very important to create a quick awareness & adoption for the new content. This is where your initial ROI will come from, so it can’t be ignored.

Use every opportunity you have to make your existing customers aware of your mobile site. They are going to be the easiest people to get to the mobile site.

This means including a list of features with screen shots in newsletters, social profiles and on your desktop site. It also means setting up a mobile PPC campaign, at least for your brand-terms, and maybe even adding a line about it in your standard email signature line for a couple weeks.

Like any launch, you should create and push a press release about the new mobile content, and if you are running traditional media ads like print, direct mail, TV or radio, you should also mention the mobile site there.

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Google Illustrates How Mobile Search is Growing


Google held an Inside Search event in San Francisco today, where it unveiled several new search features, including Voice Search for the desktopSearch by Image (based on Google Goggles) for the desktop, Instant Pages, and some new mobile features, including icons for nearby places and the ability to add suggested phrases.

Google also some interesting data about search habits.

“As much as technology has advanced, there are still many barriers between you and the answers you’re looking for—whether you’re juggling a clunky mobile keyboard or waiting for a website to load,” said Google Fellow Amit Singhal.

“The thirst for knowledge doesn’t stop when you step away from your computer, it continues on your mobile device,” he added. “In the past two years, mobile search traffic has grown five-fold. Mobile search today is growing at a comparable pace to Google in the early years.”

He showed that when you look at search traffic by day of the week, on the desktop, it drops on the weekend, while on mobile, it actually goes up on the weekend, while remaining significantly high throughout the week.

Singhal also showed that if you look at search traffic by time of day, desktop traffic rises from the early morning until around lunchtime, when it starts to go back downward into the evening. For mobile, it rises through lunchtime, dips slightly from about 1:00 to 3:00PM, then rises throughout the evening until about 11pm, when it drops off significantly into the wee hours.

The graph pictured at the top shows mobile search traffic growth over the past three years (red line) compared to overall Google search traffic growth over the same duration (blue line), only earlier in Google’s history.

I think the point is that mobile is a major part of search now, which means mobile browsing is a major factor in your online success.

Last week, we looked at a study from Google, showing the purchasing habits of smartphone users:

If you’re still not taking your mobile presence seriously, you’re behind. It starts with a mobile-optimized site, and can extend into increasing your visibility throughout popular mobile apps. While mobile is obviously huge for local business, people are clearly searching more from mobile in general, which means that if people are looking on the web for what you offer, they’re looking via mobile too. Don’t disappoint potential customers by offering a poor mobile experience, because chances are your competition has a usable mobile site.

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